Back to the boat

May 11, 2008

    We left from the Providence airport for New Zealand on Monday morning, May 5th.  Our good friend Robin Ringer picked us up from our comfortable sabbatical house at 20 Cooke Street along with our eleven bags.  Luckily, she has a huge SUV otherwise everything would not fit.  The photo below shows us outside T.F. Green airport with the seven large duffels that we checked-in.  Check-in was a lengthy but not difficult process.  They charged us $88 per extra bag all the way to Auckland, as we had been told.  Quite a bargain.


 At the Providence airport

  We had a four hour layover in Chicago and Hannah took the airport bus from Evanston to see us.  We had lunch at the airport Hilton and then sat in the sun beneath the control tower.  It was the fifth time we were able to see her since our return.  It was so nice to just be with her for a few hours.  We only wish Ben could have been there too.

  The next leg took us to LA before the 12 hour + Air New Zealand flight to Auckland.  We did manage a few hours of sleep on the flight and arrived at 5:30 am in a reasonably coherent state of mind.  We were prepared for some trouble at customs since normal tourists do not travel with nearly 450 pounds of baggage.  On the customs form, I check both the “yes” and the “no” box on whether we had more than $700 of possessions, figuring that would cover all the bases.  The customs guy looked at our piles of stuff and waved us through. 

Our rented Toyota Camry had just enough room for everything once we moved the front seats all the way up.  We headed out into rush hour traffic until we came to a distant suburb and stopped for breakfast.  The weather was great – sunny skies and temperature in the 60’s.  The past two weeks had been stormy on the North Island so we were quite lucky.

 The drive up to Whangarei was beautiful.  Everything was green and lush with only a few traces of the impending winter.  When we arrived at Riverside Drive Marina we were happy to see that our boat was in the water.  It had just gone in that morning (Wednesday, May 7).  The bad weather had kept all the boats in the water pinned to the dock so there was no room for us until just that morning.  With the weather change, a lot of boats took off north (including our friends on Risho Maru), leaving room for new boats to enter the water.  Sabbatical III looked good but there was a bit of mildew down below in spite of our friend Bo’s regular airing of the boat.

Fortunately, it was high tide so dragging our bags to the boat was a bit easier than it could have been.  At high tide the car-park and the dock are at the same level.  At low tide, it is a steep drop to the dock.  In the middle of this process, Michael and Britta of Vera came over from Town Basin, where Vera lies, to greet us and help with the last bags.  It was so nice to see them again and begin to catch up on news.  Vera had also been stuck on the “hard” by bad weather and was put back in the water just that morning too.  She was hauled only to get anti-fouling paint applied to her hull but the rain made it a two week long ordeal.  In spite of our fatigue, Laura and I emptied our bags into various piles inside the boat.  Only our sleeping berth was not completely covered in stuff.  The Vera’s then treated us to a nice meal at an Indian restaurant in town.

Putting on the new genoa

Installing the AIS at the navigation station

The inside of the boat is still a mess as I write this (Sunday May 11), but now the piles are more sensibly sorted by type of stuff.  We have actually moved along fairly quickly with our preparations to head north.  There were light winds yesterday, so Dave Parr (“Waldo”) of Calibre Sails, our sailmaker,  came over to put up our new sails.  They are clean and white and crinkle in the breeze.  With some help from Michael and Britta, I installed our new AIS (Automatic Identification System) and was able to get AIS data and GPS/depth/wind data from our Raymarine Seatalk network to be understood and displayed on our laptop. We are well connected to the outside world here.  We bought a SIM for our cell phone at the airport which has proved very useful.  I set up our new directional wireless antenna and wireless router so that we now have excellent access to the internet plus our own inside-the-boat network.  The other projects we completed in the past two days include putting new weather seals on all the outside lockers, reattaching our backstays, and replacing our VHF radio handset with one we bought in the US.  We have heaps of food, wine, and engine oil that still need to be put away and more shopping to do, plus some more boat projects.  We may be able to finish on Wednesday.  Then, if the weather cooperates, we will head north to Opua.  Vera hopes to do the same.  We probably could not reach Opua until Saturday.  We can only leave Whangarei at high tide and on Thursday high tide is late in the afternoon.  That gets us only to the opening of the river at Urquhart Bay.  It would be difficult to get from there to Opua in one day especially with the short days of mid-May.


 Looking forward inside Sabbatical III


Where to put all this?